Top FBI Lawyer Told Congress About Rosenstein Allegations, Interaction With Reporter

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • Former FBI General Counsel James Baker shared “explosive” information with Congress last week, according to Republicans.
  • Sources tell The Daily Caller News Foundation that Baker discussed his interactions with Mother Jones reporter David Corn as well as former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
  • Baker said McCabe told him that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed wearing a wire in meetings with President Donald Trump. 

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker told Congress in “explosive” testimony about his interactions with a Mother Jones reporter just after the 2016 election as well as a conversation he had last year with then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe regarding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Baker recently told lawmakers that David Corn, a reporter at the liberal Mother Jones, provided him a copy of the Steele dossier a day after President Donald Trump’s election win, sources familiar with Baker’s testimony told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Baker, who resigned from office in May, also told lawmakers that McCabe and his general counsel, Lisa Page, told him in May 2017 that Rosenstein made remarks about wearing a wire during meetings with Trump. Baker’s testimony seems to bolster a Sept. 21 report from The New York Times that cited memos McCabe wrote just after a meeting with Rosenstein in May 2017, shortly after James Comey was fired as FBI director. (RELATED: New York Times Reports That Rod Rosenstein Discussed Wearing A Wire In Conversations With Trump)

The Justice Department has disputed the story, saying that Rosenstein was making a joke in response to a request from McCabe to investigate Trump over his firing of Comey. The report touched off intense speculation about Rosenstein’s job status. He reportedly offered to resign following the report, but the White House rejected the proposal.

Baker told Congress that McCabe and Page took Rosenstein’s remarks seriously. Sources familiar with his testimony said Baker testified that he was not certain whether Rosenstein’s remarks, if said in earnest, were unethical or illegal.

The revelation comes as Rosenstein is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a group of the same lawmakers who interviewed Baker. Members of the House Judiciary and House Oversight & Government Reform committees have created a task force aimed at investigating the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe as well as the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Republicans on the task force have been heavily critical of Rosenstein amid a battle over documents related to the Russia probe. But some GOP lawmakers held their fire on Rosenstein following The Times report, noting that McCabe had a vested interest in undermining Rosenstein and Trump.

Trump said he has no plans to fire Rosenstein after the two met on Air Force One Monday.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Baker’s testimony regarding Rosenstein. Baker, who is now visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, did not respond to a request for comment.

GOP Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of both congressional committees, previously called Baker’s Oct. 3 testimony “explosive.”

A few details of Baker’s testimony were previously revealed, including that the former FBI lawyer met weeks before the 2016 election with Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the firm that commissioned the Steele dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

Baker told lawmakers that the documents from Sussmann were related to the Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails. He did not testify that Sussmann provided him a copy of the Steele dossier. Instead, Baker received the document from Corn, the Mother Jones reporter.

Corn was one of a handful of reporters to meet prior to the election with dossier author Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer. On Oct. 31, 2016, the journalist reported some of Steele’s allegations that members of the Trump campaign were in secret contact with Russian operatives.

In December, Politico reported that congressional Republicans were looking into contacts between Corn and Baker prior to the election. Corn said Baker was not a source for his article.

The Hill reported on July 10 that FBI officials referred to Corn in an email on Jan. 10, 2017, just after BuzzFeed News published the Steele dossier.

“Our internal system is blocking the site,” FBI official Peter Strzok wrote in an email to other top bureau officials. “I have the PDF via iPhone but it’s 25.6MB. Comparing now. The set is only identical to what McCain had. (it has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson.)”

Simpson is Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele to investigate Trump. McCain is late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who provided Comey with a copy of the dossier on Dec. 9, 2016.

Corn did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF. He told The Hill in July that he provided a copy of the dossier to the FBI to find out whether the bureau had verified the document.

“I tried the FBI again after the election,” Corn told The Hill’s John Solomon. “On my own accord, I shared a copy of the dossier with the FBI in order to see if the bureau would authenticate the documents and now comment on them. Once again, it would not.”

Corn also denied being a source for the FBI.

“To characterize me as a source of the document is inaccurate. I was merely doing what a journalist does: trying to get more information on a story I was pursuing,” he said.

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